What does a Democrat do after the DCCC pulls its ad buys, essentially giving up on a re-election bid in a tough midterm cycle? If the district is Ohio’s 1st CD and the incumbent is Steve Driehaus, the answer is to wheedle the government into shutting down dissent. Driehaus complained to the Ohio Election Commission in an attempt to get an order to block the pro-life Susan B Anthony List from running billboards against his ObamaCare vote:
A Democratic congressman from Ohio got a boost from his state’s elections commission on Thursday in his campaign to prevent an anti-abortion group from running billboards attacking him for supporting the healthcare bill.
The decision by a three-member panel of the Ohio Elections Commission allows U.S. Rep. Steve Driehaus to move forward with a complaint alleging that the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group, is deliberately lying about his record when it says he supports government-funded abortion because of his March vote for healthcare reform. …
Conservative groups allege that the healthcare bill funds abortion by allowing Americans to buy into government subsidized healthcare exchanges in which abortion is covered.
Progressive groups note that the bill requires abortion funding in such plans to come from private premiums. Conservatives have dismissed such claims of segregated funding as an accounting trick.
Sounds like a good debate. Apparently not to Driehaus, however, who would prefer an end to debate, at least that which involves actual dissent. Instead of answering the charge or defending himself, Driehaus wants to push the government into shutting down political debate and imposing prior restraint on his critics and opponents.
Besides the obvious implications of government tests of political speech, which are onerous enough, Driehaus is being disingenuous about the argument itself. The bar on federal funding for abortions relied on the Hyde Amendment, which has to be renewed in every annual HHS budget. If in any year that does not get renewed, then the bill’s language creates a mandate for abortion coverage, as I explained in November of last year, and again this past March. The first time Congress “forgets” to renew Hyde, the mandates kick in, and there isn’t much anyone can do at that point to reverse those mandates.
The Stupak amendment in the original House version of the bill solved the problem by incorporating the Hyde language into law, rather than budgetary language. Driehaus voted for that amendment, which only got a floor vote when Nancy Pelosi realized the bill would get defeated without the language. Instead of holding firm on the Stupak language the second time, however, Driehaus opted to vote for the final version without the language in exchange for a promise of an executive order that only holds as long as the executive keeps it in force. It’s actually worse than the Hyde Amendment language. Voting for the final version of ObamaCare meant voting for the instrument of federal mandates for subsidized abortion coverage.
If Driehaus wants to dispute any of that, he has plenty of opportunity to answer for his vote. Apparently he can’t, which is why he wants Ohio to silence his critics instead. Forget ObamaCare for the moment; no one who wants to silence dissent belongs in Congress.
Update: In PA-03, Kathy Dahlkemper hasn’t demanded government intervention yet, but wants radio stations to pull ads from Americans United for Life on the same issue.